Butler Dominates Franklin In Home Opener

Butler Dominates Franklin In Home Opener
Junior Matt Lancaster (photo by Zach Bolinger)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - In its home opener and first game under the lights since 1941, the Butler football team captured a commanding 42-13 win over in-state foe Franklin in a non-conference game Saturday (Sept. 8). The Bulldogs (1-1) were led by junior quarterback Matt Lancaster, who accumulated 354 total offensive yards while throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for two more.

Butler wasted little time gaining an advantage.

Lancaster connected with junior wide receiver Brendan Shannon for a 33-yard touchdown on the Bulldogs opening drive, igniting the home crowd of more than 4,000.

"It was a great atmosphere tonight," Lancaster said following the win. "The fans add a 12th man to our team. It's exciting to play for them and if that keeps up, it's going to be a fun season."

Shannon finished with a game-high eight receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

In addition to another passing touchdown, Lancaster added two rushing touchdowns in the half.

"Matt [Lancaster] brings a certain element to the game," Butler head coach Jeff Voris said. "Last week, we were able to avoid pressure and do some things, so this week we took the next step and put some planned runs in there for him. That was definitely an emphasis heading into this game."

Lancaster connected on 19 of his 30 pass attempts, throwing for 258 yards, while rushing for a game-high 96 yards.

Junior running back Trae Heeter was the Bulldogs' second leading rusher, finishing with 86 yards on 12 carries.

After taking a 27-0 lead into halftime, Butler started the third period right where it left off.

Less than five minutes into the quarter, Lancaster found sophomore wideout JT Mesch for a 24-yard touchdown strike, extending the Bulldogs' lead to 33-0.

Sophomore quarterback Wade Markley assumed the quarterback duties midway through the third quarter and helped Butler extend its lead even more.

In the opening minute of the fourth quarter, Markley connected with Shannon for a 24-yard touchdown, putting the Bulldogs on top 42-7.

Butler more than doubled the offensive output of the Grizzlies (0-2). The Bulldogs finished with 583 offensive yards to Franklin's 246, while setting a school record with 32 first downs.

Butler's defense held Franklin to just 82 rushing yards on 25 attempts, an average of 2.3 yards per carry.

Defensive standouts for the Bulldogs included junior defensive lineman Jeremy Stephens and sophomore linebacker Bryce Barry.

Stephens tallied three tackles and recorded the game's only sack, while Barry added one tackle and the game's lone interception.

Butler will look to continue its winning ways when the team travels to Hanover, N.H. Saturday, Sept. 15 to take on the Dartmouth Big Green. The game will be the season-opener for Dartmouth and the first ever meeting between the two teams.

The Big Green return nine starters from last season's squad that finished 5-5.